Your Blog Steward

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Omaha, Nebraska, United States
I am more and more convinced that most congregations die from a staggering lack of imagination. Let's change that. Drop me a line on email or leave a comment if you have thoughts on God, Jesus, congregations, the church or whatever.... I look forward to our conversations.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

The end of the beginning is the beginning of the end

Because time is experienced both as a cycle ( seasons, birth-childhood-adulthood-death) and as a line (2014, 2015, 2016 ad infinitum) we often get confused whether we should be happy about something or sad. For example, take my 49th birthday--please, take it away. On the one hand, I should be happy I got to 49, and all the wonderful things (like seeing my children mature into adults) that came along the way. That is getting to see my 49 years as a cycle, and getting to enjoy the benefits that 49 years of living brings.

But--on the other hand--I was getting old. There were some things I could no longer do as well, and some not at all. Choices I made earlier effected my days, and led me down one path or another, and the die was cast. When viewed this way, my 49th birthday is seen as a line, and those "glory days" of my youth are long since past. (Here's Springsteen's "Glory Days" because I know you've got it stuck in your mind now. I'll wait while you listen.)

waiting....

waiting....

waiting...

Did you notice how young the Boss and the E Street Band looked? Is that time as a circle or a line?

So I am finishing up my ministry with one congregation and getting ready to go to work with another. So I start over asking the same questions I asked last year. but to a whole new group of different people, and I expect I will get different answers. So it will be the same, but different. It makes you wonder if anything can truly be different? Truly be so unique as to change the world?

In history it has happened once, and that once is so clouded and scarred over with the tissue of human ambiguity that no one is exactly sure of the details. But once a man died and rose the Christ of God. Once upon a time "God died" (Martin Luther) and the cycles and timelines of life were changed. No longer was death the final chapter in a person's life, but rather it now extended into life everlasting. No longer were the days filled with stultifying boredom and sameness, but now each breath was charged with hope and possibility. Our experience of time no longer defined the experience of living.

The other day at lunch my server had this tatoo: dum spiro  spero. (She had it in English, "While I breathe, I hope." And to her credit she knew the Latin too. There's something cool about having a waitress who knows Cicero.)  I think that's what God wants us to know about time...that life is measured in the living not the dying. It;s measured in the hoping not the fretting. In the breathing...

May your tables be full and your conversations be true.

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